It has been a fairly quiet time for the Forum with no meetings during the holiday period, but by the time you read this article we will be well and truly back in harness and faced with an end of October deadline for some crucial documents. Following a series of emails to Poole Council a promise of an initial response to the Draft Neighbourhood Plan has at last been received. A meeting has also been requested to discuss a revised timescale for the remaining stages in the process.
We are also having to chase Natural England for their response!
In the meantime our consultants have progressed an additional item for our consideration, an Implementation and Monitoring Proposal. It is important that once the plan has been approved we are in a position to implement it and monitor the effectiveness of the various policies. This is particularly important for the housing policies and development issues. Already we are seeing applications for more flats coming forward. This will help address the need for smaller units that was identified in the Housing Needs Assessment carried out last year. However, applications for individual houses are few and far between. What we are seeing is a rapid increase in applications for extensions to existing properties. While this should not be an issue there is always a risk that the character of a specific locality could be affected.
Some of the issues we have been experiencing over the past year do not appear to be unique. As a consequence the Government continues to monitor the progress being made by Neighbourhood Forums and the support being given by Local Authorities. It periodically introduces changes to the Neighbourhood Planning process to make it easier for Neighbourhood Plans to progress more quickly. In addition the Government has recently made it easier to convert from a Neighbourhood Forum into a Parish Council. This may be an important issue for consideration depending upon the outcome of the proposed council mergers. It is possible that we could end up with no local accountability and no opportunity for local decision making.
To find out more about the options being proposed and consulted on – the consultation continues until 25th October – please use this link: www.reshapingyourcouncils.uk and please make every effort to respond to the consultation questionnaire.
Our October meeting will take place on Tuesday 11th October at 7.00pm in Broadstone Youth Centre.
Chair, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.